NHSE publishes new guidance on tackling neighbourhood health inequality

NHS England has published new guidance on how to tackle neighbourhood health inequalities.  

The document – entitled ‘Tackling neighbourhood health inequalities – supplementary guidance’ – provides information and support for the delivery of the Network Contract Direct Enhanced Services (DES) to combat neighbourhood health inequality. It also covers Primary Care Network (PCN) health inequalities, planned intervention for a population experiencing health inequality, as well as outlining available resources.

Describing its aim, the NHS Long Term Plan states: “while we cannot treat our way out of inequalities, the NHS can ensure that action to drive down health inequalities is central to everything we do.”

The guidance also highlights that PCNs are required to nominate health inequality leads to act as a focal point to champion the work.

The leads will be expected to encourage and challenge their colleagues to actively address health inequalities, and advocate for resources to be targeted at those populations with the most pressing needs.

Addressing how ICSs should support the work of PCNs health inequality leads, the guidance states: “there is an expectation that ICSs will: support the delivery of quality improvement exercises, provide analytics and support for population health management, support strengths-based working and co-production with people and communities in addressing heath inequalities”, and “provide access to a peer network of HI leads”.

The guidance also outlines training opportunities available for PCN leads to further their knowledge, which include: the Health Inequalities Improvement Academy, which incorporates Quality Improvement (QI) and establishment of a community of practice; Health Inequalities Leadership Training Modules, developed by NHS England; and Health Inequalities eLearning modules through the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

On the resources available to support PCNs in their efforts, the guidance highlights the benefits of The Health Inequalities Improvement Dashboard (HIID), which “brings together a range of indicators to help users, from national to local level, understand where health inequalities exist in their area; what is driving these inequalities; and what local insights and actions they can take to drive improvement.”